Butterfly Diversity in Michigan’s Oak-Pine Barrens

Among the young oaks, sassafras, and sedges of Michigan’s oak-pine barrens lies a mix of butterfly milkweed, flowering spurge, and horsemint. Of spotted knapweed, sunflowers, and a variety of other nectar sources that create an all-you-can-eat buffet from 9:00 to 6:00 daily (if you’re an insect and into that sort of thing).

With careful steps and keen eyes, it is possible to observe an array of wildlife in these oak-pine barrens, from wild turkeys and their flock of poults to gray tree frogs and mound-building ants. And perhaps most noticeably, butterflies!

For the past week, I have worked with a small team to survey these habitats for the endangered Karner blue butterfly (Lycaeides melissa samuelis), which relies on wild lupine (Lupinus perennis) for larval development. For more information on this species, visit this page from the Michigan Natural Features Inventory.

After completing a survey, I sometimes take the opportunity to photograph the butterfly diversity present, including these striking species:

Male Karner blue (Lycaeides melissa samuelis)

Female Karner blue (Lycaeides melissa samuelis) on flowering spurge (Euphorbia corollata)

Karner blue (Lycaeides melissa samuelis) the length of my thumbnail

Edward’s hairstreak (Satyrium edwardsii) on butterfly milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa)

Little glassywing skipper (Pompeius verna)


Coral hairstreak (Satyrium titus)

Monarch (Danaus plexippus)

Spicebush swallowtail (Papilio troilus)

Aphrodite fritillary (Speyeria aphrodite)


American copper (Lycaena phleas)

Aphrodite fritillary (Speyeria aphrodite)


One thought on “Butterfly Diversity in Michigan’s Oak-Pine Barrens

  1. Pingback: Life Pulses | The Travel Edition

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